Tom Clancy, the Baltimore author who died this week at age 66, will be remembered as the king of the techno-thriller novel. But he also was a leading example of a modern day phenomenon: the author whose works spawn a hugely profitable, multi-media franchise.
Clancy's books sparked Hollywood blockbusters such as "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and “Clear and Present Danger.” They also were turned into video games such as "Ghost Recon" and the "Splinter Cell" series.
I'd wager that there are millions of teenagers who play the video games but have never read one of his books -- a testament to the fact that a great story will capture an audience in almost any medium.
Other authors have become profit centers as well. Some examples:
-- John Grisham, whose courtroom dramas led to movies such as "The Firm," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Runaway Jury."
-- James Patterson, leader of a literary conglomerate that seems to churn out best-sellers every couple of weeks. Frequently working with co-authors, he writes thrillers, young adult books -- you name it. And, of course, there are movies, such as "Alex Cross," "Kiss the Girls," and "Along Came a Spider."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun